Disclaimer: There is no wrong way to game. Gaming is about fun, escapism, and entertainment. You can’t game incorrectly.
That said, many people disagree on what constitutes entertaining gaming. Some folks like a more serious, competitive environment and want the other people at the table to take it seriously too. Others like a relaxed, carefree approach to gaming; where everyone is just having a good time, chatting, and hanging out. And infinite variations of viewpoints in between. Not all these ideals mix well once you get a group together. Most people even change their preferred play style based on game type or with certain people.
Hosting an Event
All of these variations can cause a headache for an event organizer or someone just trying to get friends together to try their favorite game. One simple solution: set Expectations.
Lay out what you plan on playing and what the goal is for the night. If you are just playing just for fun, say that. Need practice for a big tournament? Spell it out. Play testing a new optional rule? Explain what and why.
Board game night? Give everyone an idea of what kind of board games to expect or the specific ones you had in mind. Tell how long you expect the games to last. Not only does this give people an idea if they would enjoy the game you are going to play but lets them plan accordingly.
This all needs to be communicated well beforehand. Your players, friends, and fellow gamers will know what they are getting into. Be ready to change your plans slightly to account for the issues that will inevitably come up. Remember, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”
Going to Events
Personally, I’m typically very casual in my play style with most games. I want everyone to play the game and enjoy themselves. I don’t mind winning or losing. I do take the playing of the game seriously. The game is my first priority. Hanging out, drinking, chatting, or flirting always takes second place. I know this about myself. I enter any gaming event with these expectations built in. So when the event doesn’t match what I expected I do what every civilized individual does: get annoyed and throw a fit! RAWR!
If the event isn’t meeting my built in expectations, then I adjust accordingly. Either by shifting my attitude more competitively or relaxed to match the environment. Even if an gaming event you attend doesn’t match your exceptions it is better to adjust than to get upset. Like Bruce Lee said, “You must be shapeless, formless, like water.”
When at an event it’s important to show respect to the other players, the host, and the games themselves. This can be as simple as being a good loser and a gracious winner, thanking the host for hosting, or shaking your opponents hand.
Most of my personal experiences where this goes wrong is someone not treating some else games well. Damaging, destroying, or losing pieces because of anger or by negligence. This can quickly turn a fun experience into a contentious problem.
As the host be understanding that accidents happen, tempers can flair, and someone will eventually spill something. Keeping a calm demeanor and making judgement calls fairly and firmly.
The Perfect Event
Never happens. Although if you can handle other’s expectations and adjust your expectations, you might be able to herd the cats known as gamers.